Tens of thousands sing in protest at Breivik trial

Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:42pm EDT
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By Balazs Koranyi and Victoria Klesty

OSLO (Reuters) - Up to 40,000 Norwegians gathered in Oslo on Thursday to sing a popular peace song derided by Anders Behring Breivik, the gunman on trial for the murder of 77 people, a protest organizers said showed he had not broken their tolerant society.

"It's we who win," said guitar-strumming folk singer Lillebjoern Nilsen as he led the singing and watched the crowd sway gently in the rain. Many held roses above their heads, and some wept.

The musical protest came on the same day that survivors of Breivik's two attacks last July began to give harrowing testimony at his trial, including a young woman nicknamed 'miracle girl' who described how she had survived his bombing of government offices in central Oslo against all the odds.

The crowd chose a song - "Children of the Rainbow" - that extols the type of multicultural society Breivik has said he despised and one that he specifically dismissed during the trial as Marxist propaganda.

He has often used chillingly graphic language to describe his killing spree, but it seems to have taken his comments over the song to touch a nerve in a country that prides itself on a tradition of tolerance and justice.

The protest follows several days of defiant testimony from Breivik who has admitted he killed his victims in a blood-soaked attack on Norway's multicultural society, but denied criminal guilt, saying he did so in defense of Norwegian ethnic purity.

"I care about the people who died and whose family members died. This march is about them and about our Norway, not his (Breivik's) Norway," said Peter Solberg, a 46-year-old office worker.

As it rained gently, people then marched several blocks to the district courthouse where Breivik is on trial, close to the site where he set off a bomb that killed eight people on July 22.   Continued...

People place flowers near the entrance of a courthouse where the trial of Norwegian anti-Muslim fanatic Anders Behring Breivik is conducted, as thousands turn up in poor weather at Youngstorget Square to sing a popular children's song in Oslo April 26, 2012. Around 40,000 people gathered in Oslo on Thursday to sing a song ridiculed by Breivik, who killed 77 people last July, as a show of protest against the right-wing activist's anti-immigrant views. Thousands more joined in song in towns across the country to sing "Children of the Rainbow", a song that celebrates the sort of multiculturalism that Breivik said that motivated his killing spree. REUTERS/Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix